The discount megachain (No. 24) boosted profits 18.5% in 2008. That growth is backed by a rigid pricing philosophy - a hot dog and soda combo costs just $1.50.
Seated, front row, from left: Charlie Munger, vice chairman, Berkshire Hathaway; Jill Ruckelshaus, director, multiple boards; Bill Gates Sr., co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jeff Raikes, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Tony James, COO, Blackstone Group. Middle row, starting behind grill: Richard Galanti, CFO, Costco; Jim Sinegal, CEO, Costco; Rick Libenson, former COO, Price Co. Back row: Jeff Brotman, chairman, Costco; Dan Evans, former U.S. senator and governor, Washington; Ben Carson Sr., MD, director of pediatric neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins; John Meisenbach, president, MCM; Dick DiCerchio (seated), COO, Costco; Susan Decker, former president, Yahoo.
NEXT: Environmental Defense Fund